If you search Airbnb communities, you’ll find many Airbnb hosts asking whether it’s okay to install security cameras in their properties listed on Airbnb.

Since it’s a hot topic, we put this article together to settle the debate once and for all.

Long story short, you can’t place hidden cameras or other surveillance devices in private areas within your Airbnb rental, unless your guests consent to being monitored.

In this article, private areas are any space the guest is allowed to use during their stay. In fact, depending on where you reside, installing hidden cameras in your home can be illegal – often leading to criminal charges.

In the case of entire home listings, all areas should be treated as if they are private.

Common reasons for security cameras within an Airbnb

Many Airbnb hosts are worried about having property stolen from their home, but the solution to this isn’t to become a voyeur. Rather, simply put the valuables in storage, or move them to an area off limits to the guest.

In the world of journalism, one of the most common sayings is, “if it bleeds, it leads.” The media loves to harp on stories of guests trashing vacation rental properties, but in reality, such incidents rarely occur.

Airbnb has nearly 100 million stays per year. In the rare incident something does occur, Airbnb provides hosts with a guarantee that they’ll reimburse the host for expenses, should the unexpected occur.

When can you use security cameras in an Airbnb?

Although Airbnb prohibits concealed security cameras within properties listed on the platform, there are a few instances where hosts and property owners are allowed to have cameras. Keep in mind that regardless of placement in the situations below, the equipment must be visible on the property AND disclosed within the listing so guests are aware before booking their stay.

The cases where you can use security cameras on your property listed on Airbnb include:

  • The front door: It’s a known fact that most burglars enter homes through the front door. Doorbell cameras or security cameras mounted on the exterior of the home are reasonable for an average homeowner to install on their property since don’t intrude on private spaces.
  • Designated areas that are off-limits to guests: If you have areas within the property you list on Airbnb that are off limits, then installing cameras within those areas is permissible. Airbnb still requires that you disclose the use of cameras, however. In most cases, you could keep the rooms locked, therefore eliminating the need for added security.
  • Outdoor perimeter: Building on the previous mention of front door cameras, you can compliment those by placing security cameras on the front porch, sides of the house, facing the backyard, and other points of entry.
  • Public shared spaces: Yes, Airbnb permits hosts to install security cameras within shared areas such as the kitchen and living room. While it’s permitted, in most cases, such arrangements are going to do more harm rather than good, since you won’t be respecting your guest’s right to privacy.

Where security cameras are forbidden

Although Airbnb allows hosts to install security cameras within their listings, when the placement is properly disclosed, there are areas that are always off limits. These include:

  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Dressing and changing areas

Additionally, cameras cannot be placed within direct view of such spaces. This means that they cannot provide views of the doors or windows of said spaces. It also goes without saying that cameras cannot be hidden on your property.

Even if you keep surveillance devices in shared areas, and disclose that they are hidden; it’s going to make most guests uncomfortable.

A note for guests looking to use security cameras

Although much of this article is geared towards the host side of Airbnb, we wanted to quickly note that guests also are bound by the same laws and rules as Airbnb hosts when it comes to surveillance equipment.

Whether it’s an undisclosed device to record audio or video, those are not permitted in most regions, and also the Airbnb terms of service. Technically you could ask to use such devices when making a reservation, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll be in a position where such things are useful.